Tuesday, April 27, 2010


He had spent the morning looking out the window. The grounds crew had been driving various tractors around, first pouring dirt, then grading it flat, and then apparently seeding. And then they had used the smaller tractor to push a bunch of picnic tables from around the grounds to a line just outside the windows. It was amusing, really. He'd push the table forward, it would slide off center, he'd lean over the front of the tractor and realign the table and start off again. While it was probably less physical work than actually pulling each table, he had to wonder if it would have been any faster. They had gotten out of there just in time as the clouds rolled in and it had begun to pour.

There'd be no walking at lunch today, the rain had seen to that. So they'd be stuck inside the conference center. Well, who knew if time outdoor would even be in the cards, or if it would be a working lunch.

But then just as quickly as it had begun, the rain was gone just as lunch was rolled in. He hoped he had closed his sunroof. Prayer, eat and the pronouncement that it was not a working lunch. They were in fact to keep the laptop closed, the BlackBerrys holstered and to actually take some time to decompress.

He didn't need to be told twice, scarfing down his food and making a beeline for the door. The grass, except for the the patches, looked good. The paths were wide, without grass and neatly kept. He noted the steel edging and sighed. If only he had the time to make the paths and grass at his own home look as nice as this.


"It's an ugly building," she said.

"Yeah, but we're not out here to look at the building," he replied, "Look behind you."

She turned and regarded the bay.

"The fence is in the wrong place," she said.

"What?" he asked, confused.

"This is a great fence for leaning on," she explained. "But it's facing the wrong way. You end up looking away from the bay and back at the ugly building."

He turned to look. It was indeed ugly. He couldn't explain it, but it said "Catholic." He had later learned that the conference center had been a former convent, but he had pegged the architecture before even before that.

"We got lucky, that was some storm. I had hoped, when we got here this morning, that we'd get to see a storm. It wasn't big by any stretch, but it was still pretty cool."

"Looks like we're not done," said a colleague, joining them, pointing to beyond the bay.

Sure enough, dark clouds were indeed brewing.

"I wonder how often you see orcas out there," his colleague continued. "I've seen videos before on the news websites of pods around here but I've never seen any. Just submarines."

"Oh, I know, isn't it cool?" She jumped back into the conversation. "Many, many years ago I saw the weirdest sight. It was a submarine and on its deck was a bunch of people in Russian uniforms. And a few helicopters overhead."

"What?" he asked.

"Oh, yeah. Remember that movie about the submarine? What was it called?"

"Das Boot?" he asked.

"No... the one with Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery," she persisted.

"Oh. Hunt for Red October," he offered.

"Yeah, that's the one. They were filming a scene from that. It was so weird."

There was a shout across the grounds and they turned to see the facilitator waving them back in. Already? He pulled out his BlackBerry and began to walk back towards the building.


The afternoon was going well. Everyone was participating, engaged. Engrossed in the conversation and reviewing each other's handouts. End the end of the day, everyone would call the day a rousing success.

"Amazing," he heard someone say.

He looked up from the handout and out the window. The other side of the bay was gone. Instead, there was a wall of gray. The water in the bay had turned choppy and whitecaps were everywhere.

Pretty soon, nothing was visible beyond the large tree at the edge of the property. Large didn't properly describe the tree. He figured he could build a treehouse inside the tree bigger than his apartment and it would still not be visible outside the tree's branches.

Just then, the rain hit. Driving wind at an angle began to pound the wall of windows. The storm had arrived.
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